veritas exquirere

Talon

veritas exquirere

Talon

veritas exquirere

Talon

Differences between European countries and the U.S.

Our opinion based on what we observed in England, Italy and France

Visiting the European countries of England, Italy and France for the first time, we were not sure what to expect. Would the people be indifferent as rumored, or would they charm us with their language and accents? We observed many differences between American and European cultures that came as a surprise.

Restaurants and Service

The difference between the general opinion toward service in restaurants in European countries and in the United States

struck us the most. In the U.S., it is expected of every waiter and waitress to halt and comply with any customer’s request. If a service person does not give a customer what they deem to be satisfactory service, a customer can simply dock down their tip. Without extra monetary contributions such as tips like this, worker’s wages alone might not be enough for them to purchase essential items.

When the food in a restaurant is not cooked to their liking, a customer in the U.S. would most likely send back the food and demand a better dish. Complying again with the customer, the restaurant staff will fix their dish and might even take the charge off of the customer’s check. This type of service is required partly because the salaries in the U.S. for service people are often a sub-minimum or tipped wage. A sub-minimum wage is defined as a wage that is below the minimum wage, but is allowed by the federal government only if employees receive tips. In 36 states, a sub-minimum wage is legal. This kind of salary can leave employees with an insignificant amount of money to live on in the U.S. However, if not enough tips are given to reach a standard minimum wage, employers in these 36 states with sub-minimum wages are responsible for paying their employees enough money to meet the minimum wage requirements.

Contrary to this, in most European countries this kind of pampering from restaurants is rare. The service people are wonderful, kind and happy to recommend the finest dishes and bring whatever you request, but because tipping is rare and definitely not expected in Europe, waiters and waitresses don’t have to go out of their way to serve with a smile. 

This “no tipping” culture is due to the amount that restaurants in Europe pay their employees. 

“When you go to Europe, you don’t see a bunch of kids waiting on you, because in Europe these are jobs that you can live off of. And that’s not the case in the United States,” Sylvia Allegretto, University of California Berkeley labor economist and co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, said.

Restaurants in European countries do not pay their employees a sub-minimum wage. This means that a service person’s income is stable, and does not depend on the mood of their customer on a particular day, unlike many service people in the U.S. 

We believe that European countries have a great attitude and pay significant attention to people that may be overlooked, like those working in the service industry. We think if the U.S. were to adopt some of the same attributes European countries have to aid service people, then the standard of living for these workers could improve.

Food Ingredients, quality and preparation

The quality, healthiness and freshness of food is far more encouraged and regulated in European countries than in the U.S. There is a regional culture in Europe that results in fresher and more local food products, as well as healthier junk food products. 

While walking into a grocery store, we noticed that many of the fresh meats, fruits and vegetables had labels that stated they were grown on local farms. Each tag tells the customer where each product was from, and you would actually recognize the name of a city or farm. This came as a shock as on many products in the U.S., you can see a sticker on every item with the logo of the factory where it was packaged. 

Additionally, the seemingly timeless appearance, taste and ingredients of our favorite chips, drinks and candy were different in the U.S. than in Europe. When looking at the back of each junk food and fast food item, the names of all of the ingredients were far more recognizable, instead of seeing the names of various chemicals in items in the U.S.

“We found phthalates and other plasticizers are widespread in prepared foods available at U.S. fast food chains, a finding that means many consumers are getting a side of potentially unhealthy chemicals along with their meal,” postdoctoral scientist at the George Washington University Lariah Edwards said.

From seeing these differences, we believe that the U.S. should make more of an effort to encourage healthy eating habits and do so by restricting the use of dangerous chemicals in processed food and in fresh produce.

Fashion

In Europe, people really do dress to impress regardless of the occasion. Even when performing a task as simple as walking the streets of Venice, Europeans wear their best clothing. People from England, France and Italy dress in clothing such as collared shirts and dresses for events of varying formality.

One morning, we watched as a group of teenagers walked to school on a Wednesday morning. They wore dresses, skirts, slacks and collared shirts. We wondered if this was their uniform, but each outfit was different in color and style, so each student actually chose their particular outfit. This surprised us as in the U.S. most students wear sweats, jeans and hoodies to school. We believe that this difference is due to the fact that in European culture, people are encouraged to always be dressed to appear more professional and sharp. 

In addition to this, the clothing sold at stores in Europe is commonly manufactured in Europe. Although this may make the prices of clothing increase, a large amount of this clothing is made with finer fabrics than what is commonly found in clothing sold in the U.S. Clothing made with cotton is common in these countries, especially in Italy. 

Overall, we found that people living in England, Italy and France dress much more formally than people living in the U.S.

 To conclude, there are many differences in the lifestyles of people residing in the U.S. and in Europe. As time progresses, we believe that the U.S. can make gradual changes to make healthier and more sustainable lifestyles for its citizens.

 

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About the Contributors
Sydney Herstein
Sydney Herstein, Features Editor
Brooke Herstein
Brooke Herstein, News Editor
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